The Best Botanical Gardens in Africa and the Middle East: Jewels in the Desert

The Best Botanical Gardens in Africa and the Middle East: Jewels in the Desert

by | Sep 7, 2018

Though you might not think of verdant gardens when you think of traveling to Africa and the Middle East, the botanical gardens from Istanbul to Johannesburg are not to be missed!

The contrast between the gardens and the desert makes many of these gardens even more breathtaking.

Each of the best botanical gardens of Africa and the Middle East is stunningly unique. Many combine European influence with rich local traditions and culture.

If you are a real globetrotter, you might also want to check out our guides to the best botanical gardens of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia/Oceania.

As always, don’t forget to download PlantSnap and check our guide to enjoying botanical gardens before heading out. Since this list is so far-flung, you’re unlikely to visit more than one botanical garden per trip. That makes it all the more important to make the most of your visit!

To keep things fair, we listed the best botanical gardens in the Middle East and Africa alphabetically rather than by a subjective measure.


aswan botanical garden egypt africa


Aswan Botanical Garden (Kitchener Island or El Nabatat Island)

Location: Aswan Governorate, Egypt

Size: 17 acres

Number of Species: unknown

Key Features: Island in the middle of the Nile River

Description: The island was a gift to a British officer, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, after he led Egyptian troops to victory in the late 1800s. Instead of turning the island into a private residence, he got help irrigating it and turned the entire island into a flourishing botanic garden. Now, the gardens are home to hundreds of species and at least 25 species of palm tree alone! You can only reach the gardens by boat, and parts of the island are blocked from visitors for research. Please note that as of August 2018, the gardens do not appear to have their own website.

Entry Fee: 10 EGP ($0.56 USD)

Hours: 8am to 6pm


bagh-e-fin garden botanical garden iran middle east


Bagh-e-Fin (Fin Garden)

Location: Kashan, Iran

Size: 5.6 acres

Number of Species: unknown

Key Features: UNESCO World Heritage Site, pristine Persian Garden from the 1500s.

Description: Amir Kabir, Iran’s prime minister from 1848 to 1851, was murdered in one of the bathhouses. This gives the already beautiful gardens a haunting place in history. Bagh-e-Fin is one of the world’s most pristine examples of a Persian Garden – it was built in the 1500s! Please note that as of August 2018, the gardens do not appear to have their own website.

Entry Fee: unknown

Hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm


bahai shrine israel middle east botanical gardens


Bahai Shrine and Hanging Gardens

Location: Haifa, Israel

Size: 49 acres

Number of Species: Unknown

Key Features: A shrine sits at the center of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has spectacular terracing up the side of Mount Carmel.

Description: This breathtaking garden is one of the most visited sites in Israel. The gardens consist of nine concentric circles forming eighteen terraces. The gardens extend almost a kilometer up the side of Mount Carmel, with stairs leading upwards. The stairs are flanked by flowing water. The water flow is controlled via a computer system that is optimized to avoid wasting water. The sloped terraces are known as hanging gardens. Please note that as of August 2018, the gardens do not appear to have their own website.

Entry Fee: Free entrance or a guided tour for a fee.

Hours: Unknown


jardin de majorelle makarresh morocco africa botanical gardens


Jardin Majorelle

Location: Marrakech, Morocco

Size: 2.5 acres

Number of Species: Unknown

Key Features: Cacti, palm trees, and other exotic plants are accentuated by gorgeous water features in this oasis in the center of the city.

Description: This garden was the passion project of Jacques Majorelle, an artist who spent nearly 40 years in the late 1800s and early 1900s cultivating a garden around his home. The artist’s studio was later transformed into a museum.

Entry Fee: 70 Moroccan Dirham ($7.44 USD) for the gardens, 30D Moroccan Dirham ($3.19) for the museum. Reduced rates available for students, citizens, small children, non-profits, school groups, tour guides, and press. You may need to contact the gardens ahead of time to get reduced rates (for groups).

Hours: 8am to 5:30 pm for October 1 to April 30. 8am to 6pm for May 1 to September 30. 9am to 5pm for the month of Ramadan.


kirstenbosch national botanical garden south africa


Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Size: 1280 acres, 88 acres are cultivated

Number of Species: Unknown

Key Features: There is a breathtaking canopy walkway that curves above the trees for 130 meters. The park is so massive that there are a variety of hiking paths and even mountain bike trails to explore.

Description: This huge park is nestled along the base of Table Mountain. It has roughly 88 acres of cultivated gardens, while the rest is a protected area that hosts native plants and animals. Over 125 species of bird have been recorded in Kirstenbosch, but there has been no recording of the species of plants found here.

Entry Fee: 65 South African Rand ($4.38 USD), discounts available for students, South Africans, and senior citizens.

Hours: 8am to 5pm September through March, 8am to 6pm April through August.


Did we miss your favorite botanical garden in Africa or the Middle East? Share your tips below!


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